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Gandy v. R.W. Mfg.

Confidential Reports for Attorneys

February, 1999

Product Liability-

Wood pulverizing machine causes explosion; Male, 47,
2nd-3rd degree burns

RESULT: $4.647 million

TYPE: Settlement

COUNTY: Los Angeles

CASE No. VC 022 669

CASE NAME: Orbro Gandy, Jr., et al. v. R.W. Manufacturing, et al.


Greene, Broillet, et al., By: Browne Greene, Brian J. Panish and
Geoffrey S. Wells, Santa Monica for Gandy

Thomas D. Weaver, Tustin for Estrada

Douglas L. Applegate, Irvine for Reyes


Brownwood, Rice & Zurawski, By: J. Dean Rice, San Diego for
R.W. Manufacturing

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, By: Leonard D. Venger and Jay
Miller, Los Angeles for Williams Patent

Murchison & Cumming, By: Tom Y.K. Mei, Santa Ana for

Keesal, Young & Logan, By: Scott T. Pratt and Paul J.
Schumacher, Long Beach for Praxair

Howard, Moss, et al., By: Theodore R. Howard and Edward
Dollar, Santa Ana for Bohler

Breidenbach, Buckley & Huchting, By: Mark Kitabayashi, Los
for Action Equipment


Richard Grossman, M.D., Plastic Surgeon, Sherman Oaks

Clinton F. Tempereau, M.D.; Burn Psychologist, Sherman Oaks

Lawrence S. Miller, Physical Medicine, Brentwood

Edward Bennett, Vocational Rehab, Santa Barbara

Maresh Kar, Metallurgist, Garden Grove

Steven Antolovich, Welding/Metallurgic Analyst, Moscow, ID

Robert Lowe, Fire Causation, San Juan Capistrano


Mack Quan, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineer, Santa Monica

Gerald F. Zamiski, Metallurgist, Long Beach

Eldon Knuth, Ph.D., Fire Causation, Encino


$1 million each to R.W. Manufacturing and Williams Patent
Crusher and Pulverizer; $2 million to Imperial Manufacturing;
$5 million to Bohler LJTP; $100,000 to Action Equipment.


On September 19, 1995 Pltf Gandy, age 47, along with Pltfs Reyes and Estrada, was burned when an explosion occurred at the Saroyan Lumber Plant in Los Angeles. Although the cause of the explosion was disputed, it was believed that Saroyan Lumber was using a machine known as a ‘hog’ for crushing and pulverizing wood scrap. The machine utilized a series of metal hammers to crush and pulverize the wood into sawdust. Eventually, the hammers used in this process would become worn out. As a result of the wear, they required either replacement or refacing.

Shortly prior to this incident, the hammers were refaced by Deft Imperial Manufacturing. Within several hours of the refaced hammers being put back into operation, a fire was caused in the dust collection system. Upon investigation of the hammers, it was determined that they were severely chipped. It is believed that the chipped hammers sucked metal up into the dust collection system, causing smoldering in the sawdust. When a Saroyan Lumber Yard worker opened up the dust collection system while searching for the cause of the smoke that was smelled in the mill, oxygen was introduced into the smoldering sawdust, causing the explosion.


That Deft Williams Patent Crusher and Pulverizer, as the manufacturer/designer of the machine, was responsible for a defectively designed machine; that this company gave insufficient direction concerning the refacing of the hammers. Pltfs contended that Defts UTP Welding and Praxair, through their sales representatives, recommended the wrong hardness of rod for the refacing; that the type of rod used was too hard and, therefore, more brittle which chipped during the use of the machine. Pltfs contended that Deft Imperial Manufacturing improperly refaced the hammers; that the welder was inexperienced and had never performed this type of build-up previously; that he used the wrong temperature to pre-heat the hammers, assuming that the proper pre-heat instruction was in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. Pltfs contended that Deft R.W. Manufacturing defectively designed the dust collection system and had an inadequate spark detection system. Pltf finally contended that Deft Action Equipment defectively designed the conveyor; that it failed to have a magnetic metal detector to prevent scraps of metal from getting inside of the machine.


Gandy: Severe and permanent 2nd-3rd degree bums to 90% of body. Reyes: 2nd-3rd degree burns to 20% of body. Estrada:
2nd-3rd degree burns to 15% of body.


Contended no negligence; that the product was not defective.


$1.2 million past medical; $500,000 future medical;.$50,000 past L,E.; $500,000 future L,E.


$4,647,500 of which $3.718 million allocated to Pltf Gandy and the remaining $929,5000 split between Pltfs Reyes and Estrada. R.W. Manufacturing and Williams Patent Crusher & Pulverizer each contributed $1 million to the settlement; Imperial Manufacturing contributed $1.6 million; Bohler UTP/Praxair contributed $972,500; and Action Equipment paid $75,000.



Conference in front of Justice Campbell Lucas resulted in approximately $3 million in settlement. A second conference in front of Judge Ashley resulted in an additional $1.6 million in settlement,
Pltf’s medical experts Grossman and Tempereau were his treating physicians.

COURT: L.A. County Superior Court, Norwalk.

CRA# 10478

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